The Dow Chemical Company and The University of Queensland have unveiled a strategic partnership that will establish the Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation.

Funded through a Dow contribution worth $10 million over the next six years, the newl Centre will pursue a program of research and collaboration aimed at harnessing solutions to the sustainability challenges of the 21st Century.

“This is a lighthouse initiative - hot-housing innovation at the urban energy, water and carbon nexus, which will attract international attention to the issues of sustainability and position Dow and UQ as leaders, achievers and contributors to society,” Dow Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Liveris said.

The University of Wollongong and BlueScope Steel have joined forces with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, one of the world’s leading renewable energy and sustainable building research organisations, in a new solar technology research and demonstration project with the support of $477,000 from the Australian Solar Institute.

The New Zealand Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Jan Wright, has announced a broad investigation into hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The Victorian Government has announced $1.6 million in funding for a cutting-edge hydro-electricity project that uses a Victorian-developed technology to harness kinetic energy in open water flow to generate power.

The University of Wollongong (UOW) and Ecotech have announced a partnership to manufacture and distribute a one-of-a-kind comprehensive greenhouse gas analyser to worldwide markets.

Around 3,500 miners at BHP’s central Queensland mines have walked off the job after enterprise bargaining talks broke down last Wednesday.

The Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW (LGSA) has discussed concerns over the impacts on coal mining and coal seam gas extraction on local communities at a meeting of 13 northern NSW councils.

The Victorian Government has announced it will provide $1 million in funding for the development of an ‘ultra efficient solar power system’.

The Victorian Government has announced it has scrapped its Labor predecessor’s carbon reduction target after an independent review found that keeping the state-backed target jeopodised the state’s growth.

The Federal Government’s $200 million Renewable Energy Fund is ready to commence investment in promoting and developing the country’s renewable energy sector.

Legislation amending the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act)to establish an Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development has been referred for inquiry to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications.

Ten solar power technology projects have been awarded funding totalling $12 million from the Australian Solar Institute’s (ASI) Round 3 grants program.

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Recipients include:

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Vast Solar Pty Ltd: Validation of performance modelling for 1.2MWth solar array with high temperature receiver and integrated thermal storage

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ASI contribution: $437,243 Total project value: $1,261,160

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Partners: Twynam Agricultural Group, The University of NSW, RMIT University

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Summary: Vast Solar will expand its existing test platform by designing and installing a high temperature receiver and an additional 500 heliostats. Vast Solar will assess design, materials and performance improvements delivered at temperatures greater than 560°C with the aim of developing a central receiver concentrating solar thermal plant that can deliver Levelised Cost of Electricity ~$100/MWh.

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RayGen Resources Pty Ltd: Central Receiver CPV Pilot Project – Stage 2

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ASI contribution: $1,750,000 Total project value: $3,636,952

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Partners: Boeing Spectrolab, Proteus Engineering Group, Able Engineering, Ceramet Technologies, Gannawarra Shire Council

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Summary: This project aims to demonstrate the world‟s first pre-commercial pilot of a central receiver CSP system that uses photovoltaic energy conversion. RayGen and its partners will demonstrate a complete operational central receiver CPV (C2PVTM) system in a commercial scale repeatable unit. Successful completion of the project will help advance the technology to the commercialisation phase, retire technical risk in the technology at a component and system level and gain performance data for a commercial scale C2PVTM repeatable unit over several years. In addition, construction and installation costs for a C2PVTM pilot system will be quantified and used to inform capital cost and LCOE models.

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CSIRO: Evaluation and demonstration of hybridisation of CST with carbon capture and storage

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ASI contribution: $667,500 Total project value: $1,855,000

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Partners: DELTA Electricity

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Summary: This project will examine the techno-economic feasibility of utilising concentrated solar thermal (CST) energy for the thermal regeneration of liquid absorbents in carbon capture and storage systems employed on coal fired power stations. The project aims to develop a new solar thermal reboiler for post combustion capture plants and a novel storage solution for low emissions energy. It also involves testing this reboiler and storage solution at a CSIRO operated carbon capture pilot plant located at Delta Electricity‟s Vales Point Station in NSW. It involves a major electricity generator in the economic study and analysis of integration issues for CST plants with conventional energy generation technologies.

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CAT Projects: Analysis of variations in instantaneous weather

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ASI contribution: $242,625 Total project value: $520,525

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Partners: Power and Water Corporation, Azzo Pty Ltd

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Summary: This project will develop an improved estimate for the maximum penetration of grid-connect solar generators achievable without energy storage, which takes into account the solar generators‟ distribution across the geographical area of the grid. Additionally, the project will seek to identify mechanisms for the development of predictive algorithms for the operation of solar power stations within constrained grids to ensure the optimal operation of the generation assets.

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Solar Systems Pty Ltd: High-efficiency multi-junction solar cells on low-cost, large area silicon substrates

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ASI contribution: $2,000,000 Total project value: $5,167,370

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Partners: Translucent Inc., IQE Plc, Emcore Corporation, Boeing Spectolab Inc.

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Summary: Solar Systems proposes to develop, fabricate, and test novel next-generation multiple-junction solar cells used in the evolving utility scale Concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar power station industry. The key differentiator is the development of a new virtual \'Germanium\' substrate wafer-based substrate where a thin layer of Ge is deposited on a Silicon wafer. This will reduce the cost and potentially improve the efficiency of the multiplejunction cells in CPV applications. The new substrates and resulting CPV cell structures will be fully characterised and analysed in the lab and then tested in on-sun in field equipment.

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Chromasun Pty Ltd: Lowest LCOE: Australian pilot of rooftop CST and CPV-T microconcentrator systems

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ASI contribution: $3,461,677 Total project value: $9,263,370

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Partners: Australian National University, Echuca Hospital, Little Creatures Brewing Pty Ltd, Ergon Energy, Coolgaia Pty Ltd, University of Southern Queensland, Munters, Futuris Group of Companies

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Summary: Chromasun will partner with the Futuris Group of Companies to develop and establish an Australian pilot manufacturing capability for the Chromasun Micro-Concentrator (MCT) concentrating solar thermal (CST) product. Phase 1 will include a pilot deployment with MCT collectors in Victoria at Echuca Hospital and will be coupled with a double-effect absorption chiller to provide air-conditioning directly from sunlight. Another pilot deployment will be built in Western Australia at Little Creatures Brewery coupled to an ammonia chiller to simultaneously provide chilled water and heat for boiler feedwater. Phase 2 of the project will involve developing and commissioning a hybrid (CPV-T) receiver manufacturing capability for integration into MCT units. MCT-Hybrid units will then be deployed at the University of Southern Queensland and at the Australian National University. Both these MCT-Hybrid installations will conveniently and simultaneously provide electricity and hot water.

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Granite Power Ltd: Solar Supercritical Organic Rankine Cycle for power and industrial heat

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ASI contribution: $770,000 Total project value: $1,707,250

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Partners: NEP Solar Pty Ltd, NUSport, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle Innovation, Yokogawa Australia, Turbo Power Systems

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Summary: This project will develop, demonstrate and test a small scale concentrating solar power (CSP) system plus storage using Direct Supercritical Fluid Generation (DSFG) of an organic fluid through parabolic trough solar collectors to prove the practicality and performance of DSFG, which enables field costs to be lowered. The CSP system used involves existing proven Organic Rankine Cycle technology called GRANEX®.

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CSIRO: Solar hybrid fuels

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ASI contribution: $1,585,853 Total project value: $6,845,570

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Partners: Chevron, Orica, Colorado School of Mines, and a range of leading national and international researchers in the solar fuels area.

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Summary: CSIRO will increase the efficiency of solar hybrid fossil fuels by developing and demonstrating new catalysts and membrane reactors to make the fuels at low temperatures compatible with conventional solar thermal storage. The product, known as syngas, will be suitable for electricity production in gas turbines and for making liquid transport fuels. The project also includes the assembly of a panel of national and international experts to formulate a Solar Fuels Roadmap for Australia.

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Barbara Hardy Institute, University of South Australia: Development of high temperature phase change storage systems and a test facility

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ASI contribution: $689,500 Total project value: $2,380,629

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Partners: Whyalla Solar Oasis Consortium, AORA Solar, University of Lleida, Spain

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Summary: This project involves the establishment of a world-class high temperature thermal storage test facility to test prototype high temperature storage systems. The project also involves designing, constructing and testing two thermal storage systems that incorporate new phase change materials and heat transfer techniques with the aim of reducing the cost of high temperature, high density storage systems.

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CSIRO: Solar energy management system for utilities

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ASI contribution: $225,715 Total project value: $570,430

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Partners: Ergon Energy, GWA Group

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Summary: CSIRO will develop, prototype and evaluate a world-first “firm” solar system using a solar energy management controller to monitor air-conditioning operation and utility network requests to reduce load on the electrical network, and when requests are made, remove conventional electricity load and introduce solar (supported by gas back up) to power the airconditioner. It will be tested in three residential buildings.

A new $350,000 research project funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Solar Institute will aim to reduce the cost of solar electricity.

The South Australian Government has signed up to the Federal Government’s National Partnership Agreement on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining agreement, becoming the third state to agree to ‘tougher regulations for future coal seam gas and large coal mining projects’.

Australians are paying more and more for electricity, with the country already facing one of the highest prices in the developed world, according to the Australian Electricity Prices: an International Comparison.

A promising alternative to traditional silicon-based solar cells has been developed by Dr Mark Bissett  from the Flinders University School of Chemical and Physical Sciences using carbon nanotubes.

A study by the Colorado School of public health has shown that pollution caused by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may contribute to acute and chronic health problems for those living near natural gas drilling sites.

The Australian energy Market Operator (AEMO) has released findings that that a changing economic landscape, a more energy-conscious public, the impact of rooftop solar photovoltaic installations and milder weather have all contributed to lower than forecast electricity demand across eastern and south eastern Australia.

A report published by the Climate Institute shows Australia is more dependent on high polluting technology than it was two decades ago, with the country being the only G20 member nation to go backwards on its low-carbon competitiveness since 1995 according to the Global Climate Leadership Review 2012.

Data centre operator NEXTDC has announced it will construct what will become the country’s largest private-owned rooftop photovoltaic solar system at its Port Melbourne data centre, known as “M1”

he New South Wales Government has announced plans to merge the state’s three energy providers, Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy, into one single group.

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